On the journey toward optimal well-being, understanding the interplay between nutrition, the endocannabinoid system (ECS), and brain health is paramount. When looking for cognitive decline prevention strategies, utilizing the MIND diet, an ingenious blend of brain-boosting foods, and the incredible potential of incorporating cannabis into your culinary creations can be the answer. To truly appreciate this holistic nutrition approach, let’s unravel the science behind it all.
The MIND Diet and Brain Health
The MIND or Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay diet combines two of the healthiest diets, according to research.
The Mediterranean diet (MD) is primarily plant-based but allows a limited amount of animal protein, such as fish or seafood. Requirements of the MD include daily intake of whole grains, olive oil, fruits, vegetables, beans and other legumes, nuts, herbs, and spices. While the DASH, or Dietary Approach to Stopping Hypertension diet, focuses on foods rich in the minerals potassium, calcium, and magnesium, like vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Also included fat-free or low-fat dairy products, fish, poultry, beans, and nuts. Most importantly, the DASH diet limits the intake of added sugar, saturated fats, and salt, also known as sodium, on the nutritional label.
At the heart of the MIND diet lies a symphony of nature’s bounty: herbs, olive oil, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, and nuts. This carefully curated selection is more than a delicious menu; it’s a powerhouse of nutrients specifically tailored to support brain health. Rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, the MIND diet offers a tantalizing array of flavors while nurturing your brain cells and slowing cognitive decline. Furthermore, many of these nutrient-dense foods also nourish the ECS.
Exploring the Endocannabinoid System Gut-Brain Axis
At first glance, the gut and brain might seem worlds apart, but in reality, they are profoundly connected, constantly communicating in a symbiotic harmony. This bidirectional communication network between the central nervous system and the enteric nervous system (ENS) in the gastrointestinal tract is what scientists call the gut-brain axis.
Ever heard of the phrase “trust your gut”? Well, there’s scientific wisdom behind it.
The ENS, often dubbed the “second brain,” comprises millions of neurons lining your gastrointestinal tract. This intricate neural network not only regulates digestion but also plays a pivotal role in influencing your emotions, moods, and even certain behaviors. Furthermore, the ECS plays a vital role in maintaining homeostasis.
The ECS is a remarkable biological network consisting of endocannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2), endocannabinoids, and enzymes. Our gut contains CB1 and CB2 receptors, which orchestrate a delicate balance, influencing mood, appetite, pain, and inflammation. By understanding the role of the ECS in the gut-brain axis, we begin to grasp the intricate connection between what we eat, how our body processes it, and our mental well-being. Introducing cannabinoids like cannabidiol (CBD) and Delta(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) can enhance our body’s ability to regulate the gut-brain axis.
Cannabis in the Kitchen and Brain Health
Cooking with cannabis isn’t merely a trend; it’s a culinary revolution with substantial benefits. By infusing your dishes with cannabis, you harness its therapeutic potential. Both THC and CBD positively impact the gut-brain axis.
The most common cannabis strains or chemovars contain a high-percentage of THC. However, large doses of THC do not equate to effectiveness. In fact, low-dose THC (2.5mg to 5mg) reduces neuroinflammation, enhances endocannabinoid levels, and promotes the growth of gut bacterial species that produce neuroprotective metabolites. Additionally, THC slows down the digestive process and has been traditionally used to treat diarrhea, reduce pain, and elevate mood.
Adding CBD stimulates the digestive process and has been traditionally used to treat anxiety, pain, inflammation, and constipation. Also, CBD directly protects the cells that line the gut. Moreover, CBD increased hippocampal cell survival and neurogenesis. Lastly, CBD-dominant strains offer a good option for daytime use without sedation.
Most importantly, understanding edible dosing is crucial to an enjoyable, beneficial edible experience. To simplify this process, we recommend using the Veriheal edible dosing calculator, ensuring your cannabis-infused creations offer relaxation without overwhelming effects.
Interconnectedness – MIND Diet, Cannabis, Brain Health, and ECS
Now, let’s connect the dots. When cannabinoids from cannabis bind to CB1 and CB2 receptors, they trigger pain relief, anti-vomiting, and anti-inflammatory effects. Remarkably, the MIND diet, with its fiber-rich fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, nurtures a healthy gut microbiota. This intricate balance directly impacts the ECS, creating a harmonious relationship between your brain, diet, and overall well-being.
A MIND Diet Recipe – Basil Pesto
Basil Pesto is a nutrient-dense, MIND diet-compliant recipe packed full of ingredients that nourish your gut, ECS, and brain. Add your favorite cannabinoid (THC or CBD) to enhance the benefits.
2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup walnuts, toasted
3 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/2 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more to taste
Calculated dose of cannabis oil
Toast the Nuts: toast them in a dry skillet over medium heat until they are lightly browned and fragrant. Stir frequently to prevent burning. This step enhances their flavor. Remove from heat and let them cool.
Prepare the Basil: Wash the fresh basil leaves thoroughly under cold water. Pat them dry with paper towels or a clean kitchen cloth.
Blend Ingredients: In a food processor, combine the basil leaves, toasted nuts, grated Parmesan cheese, peeled garlic cloves, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
Pulse to Combine: Pulse the ingredients a few times until they are roughly chopped and well combined.
Add Olive Oil and Cannabis Oil: With the food processor running, slowly pour the extra-virgin olive oil through the feed tube in a steady stream. Continue processing until the pesto reaches your desired consistency. If you prefer a smoother pesto, blend for a longer time.
Taste and Adjust: Taste the pesto and adjust the seasoning if necessary. You can add more salt, pepper, or cheese according to your preference.
Enjoy: Your homemade basil pesto is ready to use! Toss it with cooked pasta, spread it on sandwiches, use it as a pizza sauce, or drizzle it over grilled vegetables. The possibilities are endless.
Note: Pesto can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week. Simply transfer the pesto to a clean jar or airtight container. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the pesto before sealing the container with a lid. This helps preserve its vibrant green color. If you want to store it longer, you can freeze it in ice cube trays and transfer the frozen pesto cubes to a freezer bag. When you’re ready to use it, simply thaw a cube or two as needed.
In closing, the synergy between the MIND diet, the ECS, and culinary cannabis is a beacon of hope for neurodiverse individuals seeking holistic wellness. By embracing the nutrient-rich MIND diet and exploring the gentle power of cannabis-infused cuisine, you embark on a transformative journey toward optimal brain health. Remember, understanding the nuances of cannabis dosing is your compass in this adventure. For personalized guidance tailored to your unique needs, consider consulting our certified holistic nurse; click here to schedule a free holistic nutrition consultation.
A direct consultation is required for any recommendations to be made, and in no way should the information provided in this article be understood to be or construed as recommendations, suggestions, or advice concerning individual health. Information provided in this article is for informational and educational purposes only. Information on this website is not intended to diagnose, claim, cure, heal, or correct any illness or medical condition. Always consult a licensed healthcare provider when considering a change to your wellness routine. Always consult a licensed healthcare provider when you stop or start taking medication, supplements, herbs, or vitamins.
As you savor the flavors of your mindful meals, rest assured that you’re not just nourishing your body; you’re nurturing your neurodiverse brain, paving the way for a brighter, healthier future.
Stay mindful, stay well, and let your journey toward holistic wellness begin.
Nurse Author Dominique Fontaine, BSN, RN, HNB-BC, HWNC-BC is a double board certified holistic nurse, Amen Clinics certified professional brain health coach, holistic medical content writer, and medical content reviewer for Sage Integrative Wellness, LLC and various national and international wellness companies and media companies. Dominique offers holistic nurse consulting for businesses, media companies, and organizations in holistic medical content writing and medical content reviewing upon request. She’s a passionate neurodiverse nurse advocate striving to transform healthcare and culture through awareness, holistic education and research, and integrative brain health nurse coaching